Best and Most Effective CBD Oils for Sciatica [2022 Update]
Sciatica is not a medical condition in itself; it’s a symptom of another underlying problem. For example, a lumbar herniated disc or spinal stenosis could be the root of the issue.
Generally, sciatica describes symptoms of pain that travel through the large sciatic nerve. Sciatica is more common than one might think because this pain can stem from so many different medical conditions. Recent estimates suggest that up to 40% of U.S. adults will experience sciatic nerve pain at some point in their lives.
Prescription drugs are routinely consumed by people living with sciatica, but such medication can lead to adverse side effects, not to mention a risk of addiction. Now, the use of CBD oil for sciatica has increased to the point where some consider it an alternative option for pain management.
This article will discuss irritation of the sciatic nerve and how CBD might work to ease the pain itself and the underlying conditions. At the end, we outline what we feel are the best CBD oil brands.
What Is Sciatica?
The sciatic nerve is the longest and widest nerve in the human body. It starts in the lower back and extends downwards through the buttocks and into each leg, innervating everything from the toes to the lower back muscles.
Pain associated with the nerve can range from a mild tingling sensation in the feet or toes to completely debilitating and immobilizing lower back and leg pain.
Sciatic nerve pain can cause anything from a mild tingling sensation to complete debilitation of the lower back and legs.
While many things can irritate the nerve and cause acute or temporary discomfort, the most common cause of chronic sciatica is a herniated (slipped) disc. This is where the jelly-like disc protrudes from the spinal column and presses up against the nerve itself.
The tough thing about treating slipped discs is that once they become “dislodged” from beneath the vertebrae, they don’t typically heal well or go back into place independently. Naturally, this can cause frustrating and long-term conditions. Intense pain can be a day-to-day occurrence, and sleep can become difficult. Other causes of sciatica can include:
- Pinched/compressed nerves in the lower vertebrae
- Acute injuries
- Lumbar spinal stenosis
People with overly strenuous physical labor jobs are more likely to develop sciatic nerve pain. Individuals who sit for long periods (i.e., 8+ hours a day for years) without walking/stretching breaks are also at higher-than-average risk.
Conventional Treatment Methods (Other than CBD) for Sciatica
Treatment options for sciatic nerve pain are as far-reaching as the vast assortment of medical conditions that cause it. Some individuals may find relief through lower-back stretches and body strengthening workouts like yoga and Pilates. Others are left with no alternative other than relying on heavy-duty prescription painkillers.
When the pain stems from inflamed tissue coming into contact with the nerve, alternating hot and cold packs have proven effective. General over-the-counter drugs like ibuprofen can work as well.
In terms of conventional sciatica treatment, surgery should always be a last resort option. Physical therapy is much more common.
Physical therapy is also an efficient treatment, as is cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT). With CBT, patients are trained to react differently to pain sensations. While an interesting approach, results can be hit or miss.
Surgery is an option in the most severe of cases. Procedures like lumbar laminectomies (widening of the vertebrae to minimize pressure on the nerve) have been effective in some instances. Discectomies (complete removal of slipped discs) can also work. In any instance, surgery should be a last resort option.
CBD oil for sciatica is becoming a popular alternative for individuals looking to avoid heavy-duty dosages of prescription medication.
CBD Oil for Sciatica: A Realistic Alternative to Prescription Meds?
Compared to prescription drugs, CBD oil is less expensive and results in fewer adverse effects. So, is CBD a potentially effective remedy for sciatica?
To understand the specific physiological role of CBD in the body, we need first to understand the basic role of the endocannabinoid system as it relates to pain sensation and pain management pathways in the central nervous system.
Four years ago, doctors Perry Fine and Mark Rosenfeld published a peer-reviewed study showcasing the physiological functions of endocannabinoids as therapeutic pain modulators.
The researchers wrote that everyone has an innate network of endocannabinoids and cannabinoid receptors. This network helps modulate the pathways of nociception – the body’s response to harmful stimuli.
In the event of abnormal circumstances (i.e., a herniated disc pressing up against the sciatic nerve), the endocannabinoid system becomes overwhelmed. As a result, it cannot perform at its normal efficiency rate. This is when – and why – we experience bouts of unbearable pain. It is also when the therapeutic effects of CBD may become useful.
Discussing the SCIENCE. …
Functionally, CBD appears to act as a “reinforcement” to the body’s natural pain management system. That is, to its network of endocannabinoids and cannabinoid receptors. As a cannabinoid itself, CBD increases the number of pain modulators available to initiate a response to harmful stimuli. Harmful stimuli can include anything from a bulging disc to an inflamed tissue pressing up against the sciatic nerve.
In other words, it appears that CBD increases the body’s ability to minimize pain under abnormal conditions.
Consider it like this. When we have a bacterial infection, we take antibiotics to reinforce the body’s immune system and help it overcome the presence of harmful bacteria. CBD appears to do the same thing, albeit with pain and the natural physiological pain management processes.
CBD Oil for Sciatica: Anecdotal Evidence
Cain Velasquez is a popular MMA fighter who openly uses CBD oil for sciatic nerve pain. The fighter claims his pain was so severe at times that he could only stand for minutes at a time. In fact, he had to pull out of a few high-profile fights due to sciatica-related issues.
Since discovering CBD oil, Velasquez says he recovers properly and can train harder after fights. He also claims that CBD is superior to pain meds due to its non-addictive nature and minimal side effects.
“Sciatica is an achy pain that goes down your leg … it gets to a point where if you’re standing for 10 minutes, you have to sit down. CBD is the only thing that allows me to still train – and I’m not taking a harmful painkiller into my body that I’ll later become addicted to.”
MMA fighter Cain Velasquez
Countless other CBD oil users suggest that the cannabinoid is at least as effective as prescription medication for sciatica, but what does the research say?
Current Research on CBD, Sciatica, and Potential Therapeutic Effects
In 2005, Italian researchers conducted a study that looked at the effects of CB-1 receptors on pain response. Specifically, they observed the effects of nerve demyelination (one of the underlying causes of sciatica) in rodents. They also considered the potential influence of cannabinoid receptors on “chronic constriction injury of the sciatic nerve.”
The researchers wanted to see whether cannabinoids like CBD affected sciatica-related pain. Before cannabinoid treatment, sciatic nerve tissue analysis in the animal subjects showed “marked degeneration” of myelinated fibers. In other words, damage to the rodent’s sciatic nerve was prevalent.
After “repeated administration” of cannabinoid treatment, it was observed that damage to the nerve tissue was reduced. This suggests that cannabinoids like CBD could function in myelin tissue repair. They also may be able to “promote long-lasting functional recovery,” as noted by the researchers.
“Present findings suggest that [cannabinoid treatment] is effective not only in alleviating neuropathic pain but also in favoring nerve myelin repair.”
July 2005 article from academic journal “Pain.”
Even with this promising information, it’s important to remember that CBD for sciatic nerve pain is not yet an FDA-approved form of treatment. For this reason, a doctor can’t prescribe it. Long-term clinical trials are necessary to get to a stage where a CBD-based sciatica drug exists.
High-quality products are still readily available in the U.S., with or without a medical cannabis license. These products are derived from hemp, a legal commercial crop according to the 2018 U.S. Farm Bill.
How to Use CBD Oil for Sciatica
There are no CBD products available designed specifically for sciatica. However, there is a wide range of choices for those who want an alternative to prescription drugs. At present, CBD is available in the following forms:
- Vape products
CBD topicals are often the most popular choice for people living with sciatica. These products are creams, balms, ointments, or lotions infused with cannabidiol. Using them is as easy as rubbing the topical into the skin. Yet, it isn’t easy to measure dosage when choosing a CBD topical.
Therefore, one may decide to use a CBD oil or tincture by placing a few drops beneath the tongue and holding them there for 60-90 seconds. Doing so ensures that the CBD is consumed sublingually.
Another option is to consume the cannabinoid orally via edibles or capsules. Such products are easy to use but offer a lower rate of bioavailability than oils or tinctures. They also take longer to have an effect.
Finally, CBD vape products take effect quickly and offer a high bioavailability rate. Manufacturers create CBD vape liquid by adding thinning agents. Designed for use with a vaporizer, the liquid is exposed to heat and becomes a vapor that the user inhales.
How Much CBD Oil to Take for Sciatica?
There is no hard and fast dosage of CBD oil for sciatica pain. Apart from Epidiolex, a pharmaceutical drug containing cannabidiol, there are no FDA-approved CBD products. Therefore, researchers have yet to figure out what constitutes an effective dose of CBD.
Also, the fact that CBD impacts people differently means it is virtually impossible to decide upon a universal dosage in any case. In general, people should start with a small dose of 1mg to 5mg to see how CBD affects them. From there, they can increase the dosage by 2-3mg a day every few days until they experience a noticeable effect.
The complete guide…
Final Thoughts on the Best CBD Oil for Sciatica
Please remember that CBD oil is not a cure for sciatica. Indeed, sellers aren’t allowed to make any medical claims whatsoever. However, many people living with sciatica say that CBD oil has proven a big help. Yet, until further clinical research into the cannabinoid’s efficacy is published, it will not be classified as a treatment for any medical condition.
When purchasing CBD oil, choose a reputable brand that provides third-party lab reports with every product. Select CBD extracted from hemp with a maximum of 0.3% THC. To buy products with a higher THC content from marijuana, one needs to live in a state where the substance is legal recreationally. Alternatively, one must live in a state with a medical marijuana program AND have a valid MMJ card.
When using CBD for sciatica, don’t expect immediate results as it can take a while to have an impact. Also, the cannabinoid has a different effect from one person to the next.
Below, we outline what we believe are the best CBD brands on the market. Each one ticks all the boxes regarding reputation, quality, and product quantity.
A word from Dr. Mosab Deen on using CBD for sciatica:
“Overall, top-tier CBD strains confer the ability to prevent further neurodegeneration, ideal for symptoms of sciatica. In addition, studies suggesting CBD as an essential component of neural repair and endocannabinoid synergy make CBD the top-tier treatment for sciatica exacerbation.”
CBD for Sciatica: Here’s what you need to know
The sciatic nerve runs throughout the lower back and the legs, and when it is pushed too hard or rubbed the wrong way, it can cause terrible pain over a vast area.
There are many causes of sciatic pain, from herniated discs to bone spurs in the spine. Any of them can be complicated by factors such as obesity, passive lifestyle, advanced age, and diabetes.
As a chronic pain issue that impacts everyday life, people with sciatica have limited options. Painkillers and over-the-counter meedications are only so effective, not to mention potentially harmful. Many patients seek out alternative treatments, including CBD products such as oils and topicals.
In this post, we explore whether CBD can help with the management of sciatic pain, and provide our opinion on the best CBD brand for sciatica in 2020. We’ll talk about what sciatica is, who gets it, how it feels, and how CBD can work to treat it. We’ll explain why we like Spruce CBD generally and why we like Spruce CBD oil and Spruce CBD salve as complementary therapy for sciatica.
What Is Sciatica?
Mayo Clinic describes sciatica as a painful sensation radiating from the sciatic nerve. The sciatic nerve originates in the lower back and branches through the hips, buttocks, and legs. Obviously, this means aggravation of the nerve and sciatica can cause hip pain, leg pain, or back pain—and all of these symptoms of sciatica typically occur on one side of the body.
These factors make sciatica confusing. For example, it can seem like a localized injury on one side. But what’s really going on in each case—whether it’s a herniated disk, bone spurs (hard bumps forming on the spine), or spinal stenosis (a narrowing of the spine)—is compression of the sciatic nerve causing pain, numbness, and tingling in affected areas.
Sciatica can also cause regular motion to feel much more difficult because the feet and legs feel weak. Even the sudden movements caused by normal motion from coughing or sneezing can exacerbate sciatic nerve pain as motion shakes the nerve.
Although sciatica can last a very long time, in most cases, sciatica is a temporary condition lasting between four to six weeks.
A slipped disc from an injury is the most common cause of sciatica. When the soft tissue between other bones and the spine is moved out of place, a slipped disc can occur. This can lead the spine to push against the sciatic nerve causing sciatica.
It is difficult to treat slipped discs because they don’t typically go back in place or heal well on their own once they become dislodged from their original position beneath the vertebrae. As a result, a slipped disc often leads to chronic, frustrating conditions that can include intense, day-to-day pain.
Spinal stenosis, the narrowing of the spinal canal and resulting compression of spinal cord nerves, is another very common cause of sciatic nerve pain. Spinal stenosis is frequently mistaken for general leg or back pain and typically occurs in older people.
Spondylolisthesis, a problem that causes the vertebrae to slip out of place, causing friction between the bones and the sciatic nerve, can also trigger sciatica. Spondylolisthesis is one of the leading causes of lower back pain, and many people do not realize they have it.
When protective discs that offer padding between the spinal cord and bones start to break down, it can cause discomfort and pain from pressure on the sciatic nerve. This is called degenerative disc disease, and it is another cause of sciatica.
Who is Likely to Suffer from Sciatic Pain?
Sciatica is, at a minimum, irritating. Just coughing or sneezing can be enough to trigger pain. Severe sciatica can cause intense pain that compromises ability to function, let alone perform.
Risk factors for sciatica include:
- Aging. Over time, the body’s discs become damaged and stressed. The sciatic nerve becomes irritated as bone spurs develop.
- Sedentary lifestyle. People such as office workers who sit for long periods of time are more prone to sciatica. This is because without the relief it gets from intermittent movement, the spine is under pressure for too long just from being held still. Mitigate this issue by using a high quality chair and getting up to take breaks frequently.
- Certain jobs. Some jobs are more likely to place extra stress on the spine or create injury by requiring the worker to carry heavy loads, twist their back, or otherwise perform risky tasks.
- Overweight. Carrying too much weight pressures the spinal cord and may trigger sciatica.
Of course, many people are susceptible to multiple risk factors. For example, someone who is overweight, doesn’t get much exercise, is older, and suffers from diabetes is at high risk for sciatica.
This is even more true if they work in a job involving heavy physical labor—particularly if they lead an otherwise passive lifestyle. Whether you’re sitting at a desk for eight hours at a time or engaging in repetitive motions, sciatic nerve pain is more likely to develop in people who work these types of jobs.
My Sciatica Issues: From One of Our Testers
As a kid I remember watching my grandmother struggle to stand up, grabbing her hip in pain. Later, as a young adult, it was my aunt who was suffering from sciatica. Now it’s me.
I’ve been coping with sciatic pain for about ten years now—since my late 30s. At first that shooting pain down my leg and back was just startling. Now it’s a serious problem, and some days I’m hunched over like an oldster.
I don’t have health insurance, but even if I did, I’m familiar with the traditional routine because my aunt went through it for years (and she still is). Cortisone shots last for a few weeks—and they don’t feel great going in, trust me. They’re still the best thing going, but they are less and less effective.
Muscle relaxers are a non-starter. They don’t work and make you gorked out. Stretching and yoga are excellent, but they can’t put a stop to sciatica pain that is already there. (Do them anyway!)
That’s why CBD is a really useful tool in the sciatic pain relief toolbox.
How Can CBD Help Relieve Symptoms of Sciatica?
Neuropathic pain is the kind that irritation, inflammation, or neural tissue compression causes. Nociceptive pain is triggered as the body reacts to painful stimuli, such as when the inflammatory response is triggered, and it does not itself cause nerve damage.
Sciatica generally causes both neuropathic and nociceptive pain, and research indicates that CBD can alleviate both types.
Cannabidiol or CBD is a critical part of the endocannabinoid system (ECS), binding with the CB1 and CB2 receptors to send signals about conditions and restore homeostasis or balance in your body. In this role, CBD and other cannabinoids fight pain and inflammation, and therefore can help treat sciatica and other health issues.
Research has already proven that CBD is a potent analgesic and anti-inflammatory. Specific research also seems to support the idea that CBD can treat neuropathic pain—and this is certainly an element of sciatica. The remaining inflammatory response is also something that CBD can treat, as research indicates.
So, although no study has directly investigated the effectiveness of CBD in treating sciatic pain in humans, there is ample anecdotal evidence and plenty of suggestive science out there to make trying it a sound idea.
CBD oil will not cure sciatica; it doesn’t address the underlying issues such as compression of the sciatic nerve. However, its pain-relieving and anti-inflammatory properties can alleviate some of the worst symptoms.
Conventional therapies for sciatica include anti-inflammatory drugs such as ibuprofen, aspirin, naproxen, and other over-the-counter painkillers. Doctors also recommend ice or hot packs and physical therapy.
Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) are a popular choice, but they only relieve nociceptive pain and inflammation, not neuropathic pain. In contrast, CBD oil has proven to have anticonvulsant and antidepressant benefits in addition to its anti-inflammatory properties.
Pros and Cons of Using CBD to Treat Sciatica
- Safe. CBD has a very high safety profile and is well-tolerated by humans, even at high doses of as much as 1500mg daily.
- Legal. Thanks to the 2018 Farm Bill, it is legal to produce and sell hemp-derived CBD oil, despite the fact that the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) still has yet to meaningfully regulate the area or acknowledge that hemp-based products have therapeutic qualities.
- Easy. It is simple to find CBD products over the counter without a prescription, in contrast to medical marijuana products, which require some kind of authorization except in recreational states.
- Variety. CBD is available in a huge range of products, from gummies to tinctures, topicals, and vapes.
- Side effects. CBD oil has a few minor side effects despite its high safety profile, including dry mouth, fatigue, and appetite changes.
- Interactions. If you take prescription medications, you should always talk to a medical practitioner before supplementing with CBD because it may interact with some medications.
- Uncertainty. The research in support of CBD as sciatica treatment remains inconclusive.
What Types of CBD Work Best for Sciatica: CBD Oil or CBD Topicals?
This is a good question, although to a very real extent this will vary somewhat from person to person. Pain management is very personal. Still, there are a few ways to consider how to identify the best CBD for sciatica in your case:
Full-spectrum CBD and the entourage effect
CBD products may offer full-spectrum CBD, broad-spectrum CBD, or CBD isolate. Full-spectrum CBD retains all of the naturally-occurring phytonutrients from the hemp plant. This enables full-spectrum CBD products to produce the entourage effect, the result of multiple terpenes and cannabinoids working together in synergy to create greater benefits and/or function more efficiently.
The entourage effect is still produced by broad-spectrum CBD to some extent, but broad-spectrum products lack the trace amounts of THC that full-spectrum extracts retain. CBD isolates remove all other terpenes and cannabinoids, somewhat reducing the effectiveness of the CBD—so these products are best for people who regularly get tested for drugs.
Lame as it is, there are still some states that place limits on even hemp-derived CBD products, including where they can be bought and how they are labeled. Since marijuana-derived products are regulated far more strictly, stick to hemp-based CBD products.
Buy CBD products from reputable brands. If you are shopping around, look for organically-grown hemp from the US and CBD products made with the heatless and solventless supercritical CO2 extraction method.
Look for CBD products that are independently tested for content analysis by a third-party laboratory. Reputable companies post lab reports online or make them available so you can see the potency of CBD and verify that the product is free of any contaminants and dangerous substances.
Read real customer reviews. Focus on third-party websites and blogs on the use of CBD, not just product websites. Explore flavor options or CBD capsules if you dislike the naturally bitter taste of hemp. Are you hoping for a topical or tincture treatment option? Something different like a vape or CBD gummies?
For sciatica, CBD topicals, such as CBD salves, creams, lotions, and gels, can treat localized pain and discomfort in the lower back, buttocks, hips, and legs. Another excellent option is CBD tincture or oil sublingually twice a day.
Our Favorite CBD for Sciatica
Our favorite brand for treating sciatica? Spruce—and we like to hit it with a one-two punch of CBD oil in the form of 2,400mg Max Potency Full Spectrum CBD Oil Tincture and CBD topical in the form of Spruce 2,000mg Full Spectrum CBD Salve. Here’s why Spruce generally:
Quality. Spruce sources all of their hemp from family-owned Kentucky and Colorado farms known for sustainable, safe farming processes. These growers offer some of the highest potency and quality hemp and cannabis strains available for use for CBD consistently.
Process. Spruce extracts CBD using a unique technique with moonshine as a solvent to create a high-quality blend of high-CBD, low-level THC hemp seed oil. To ensure that there is zero aftertaste or effects from the moonshine, it is completely filtered out before bottling.
Purity. All Spruce CBD products are guaranteed to be free of harmful pesticides, chemicals, and heavy metals, and are tested by an independent third party laboratory to prove it. Lab testing information is available on the site.
Service. Spruce ships free within the US and delivers within 2 to 4 days, typically. You qualify for a full refund after your first purchase according to their return policy if you return your purchase unopened according to directions.